I spent some more time on Sunday improving my HF mobile install. After completely removing the rear interior panel of the cab and finding no grommet or any other easy method of passing the feedline into the cab I was able to find a nice sized grommet under the passenger seat. I was able to keep the feedline to a length of 10 feet, ran it through a plastic covering for protection, and then tied it off underneath the truck at multiple points using zip ties. For the antenna mount support, I found an L bracket at Home Depot that I was able to securely bolt to the bed of the truck near the cab. I ran a short length of braided grounding wire from the other side of the bolt (inside the bed frame) down to the frame of the vehicle underneath the cab. For the antenna mount, I’m using a 3/8 inch X 24 Radio Shack base fitting – standard for use with Hamstick, Hamstick knock-offs, and the Hustler varieties. The base fitting fit neatly through a pre-drilled hole through the top of the L bracket.
In the past when I operated portable HF from the truck I used one of the 12v convenience outlets (aka cigarette lighters). I have consistently failed to locate any easy access through the engine firewall for a power cable. Now with finding the grommet under the passenger’s seat, I decided to use that for the entrance for 12v power. I used 10 gauge wire from the truck’s battery terminals (both with in-line fuses), routed the cable around the engine and down the passenger side to the grommet. I terminated the line using Anderson PowerPoles and am using a Saratoga Amateur Power Panel for distribution.
I took advantage of the IC-706MKIIG’s detachable faceplate, using the mounting kit to attach it to a Belkin iPod/PDA holder that secures into a cup holder. This allows me to easily tune around the band with my right hand without any reaching. The handmike attaches to the faceplate.
I haven’t found a great place to actually secure the radio and auto tuner. Right now they’re tucked under the rear of the front passenger’s seat. The seat immediately behind the passenger’s seat folds up towards the front of the truck and provides protection (and shade) for the rig. If I can find a way to mount the radio that still allows me to quickly and easily remove it for portable use, I’ll do it.
For antennas I’m using a two Hamstick knock-offs made by a company called Workman. One is for 20M and the other is for 40M. They easily screw into the 3/8 inch X 24 base fitting. Both work well, the 20M tunes the entire band and the 40M tunes nicely below 7260. I also purchased a cross between a Hustler and a Hamstick antenna (also for 20M and 40M) made by a company called Opek at the Virginia FrostFest last month. The 20M antenna is worthless. It won’t tune anywhere in the 20M phone band. The 40M antenna does a nice job covering the 40M band and tunes up to 7290 without issue. I also have a 75M Hamstick (can’t remember where I bought it) – with a little trimming of the stinger I was able to get the stick to tune the upper portion of the 75M phone band. The tuneable bandwidth for the 75M stick will be narrow, no way around it. But I can cut a few different length stingers to provide coverage down into 80M.
I’ve had successful QSOs using the Workman 20M and 40M antennas as well as the 40M Opek antenna. This evening I had the 20M Workman antenna mounted and first had a QSO with PS7JS in Brazil. There were several stations calling, but PS7JS came back to me after my second call and gave me a 59 report. Ten minutes later I had a QSO with Pedro, XE1REM, operating from Mexico City. Pedro also gave me a FB 59 report. Earlier today I had a QSO with a station in Slovakia, receiving a 57.
A couple of notes on operating mobile:
(1) I need to get something to take notes with. I need to be able to jot down callsigns, freqs, and times.
(2) I have to remember to include “mobile” after my callsign.